Decatur residents question how police handled case of sleeping stripperPhoto by Dan Whisenhunt
This story has been updated.
Some residents are questioning the way Decatur Police Department handled the case of a stripper found lying next to her car on a residential street. The police department says its officers concluded the woman was simply tired and sent her on her way.
But residents think the officers should’ve asked her a few more questions. They also want to know why a DeKalb County Police Officer picked her up and drove her away from the scene.
Dawn Hammond said noticed something unusual as she was leaving her Oak Lane home early Tuesday morning, Jan. 27.
Hammond, who was taking her kids to school, saw a black Mercedes parked on the street and woman lying face down next to it. It was cold – the high 20’s, Hammond said – and the woman was wearing a short skirt.
Hammond told Decaturish later, “I thought she was dead when I first saw her.”
The woman had climbed back into the Mercedes and started leaning over the steering wheel when Hammond called police.
“She won’t look at me,” Hammond told the dispatcher. “I’m a little scared to get involved. I don’t know who she is.”
Decatur Police sent an officer to the scene, who noticed the vehicle was still running. He saw the woman “asleep and slumped over the steering wheel.” According to the police report, the officer knocked on the window and the woman woke up. She told the officer she worked as a dancer at Pin Ups, a local strip club, and was too tired to drive home. She told him she had pulled over to rest before driving.
Hammond had to leave the scene because she was taking her children to school. According to the police report, the officer checked the vehicle’s tag number and discovered the Pin Ups dancer had no valid insurance policy. He impounded the Mercedes and had it towed away. The officer cited her for having no car insurance. He did not administer any tests to check to see if she was driving under the influence, according to the report.
Deputy Chief Keith Lee told Decaturish the first officer who responded is one of the department’s most notorious for busting impaired drivers. He said the officer was not aware that the woman had been found lying on the ground. A review of the dispatch tape shows Hammond told the operator this, but this information does not appear in the written dispatch report.
“If anybody is an expert at it, it’s him, and he said he never saw any signs of intoxication,” Lee said. “Really, he didn’t see anything but signs of fatigue.”
Lee said the officer offered the woman a ride home but she refused. The last he saw her, she was walking down Oak Lane, Lee said.
“He never saw anybody pick her up,” he said.
Hammond’s neighbors, Jennifer Daniels and Melissa Moore, watched the woman leave with a DeKalb County Police officer after the Decatur Police officers left.
Daniels, a local attorney who says she used to work as a DeKalb County prosecutor, saw the DeKalb County Police car turn onto the street and thought it was odd because her street is in the city of Decatur.
“I saw the woman sitting on the side of the road with a suitcase next to her,” Daniels said. “She opened the back door (of the police cruiser) and put the suitcase back there and opened the front door of the cruiser and got in. They sat there for several minutes. At this point, the Mercedes was on the back of the tow truck. I saw the police officer get out of his cruiser go and talk to the tow truck and give him instructions.”
Moore said she also saw the woman leave with the DeKalb Police officer.
“She was definitely in the front seat of the DeKalb car I thought that was weird,” Moore said.
Moore and Daniels did not have any identifying information about the officer, like a badge or tag number.
DeKalb County Police Capt. Steven Fore, the county police department’s spokesperson, was not aware of this case.
“There has been no allegation filed with the DeKalb County Police Department related to the incident you reference,” he said. “However, if there are witnesses that believe something inappropriate took place on the part of a DeKalb County Police Officer I would encourage them to file a formal complaint with Internal Affairs so the allegation could be thoroughly investigated.”
Dept. Chief Lee said Decatur Police officers did not see a county police car that morning.
“Neither of the officers on scene saw a DeKalb PD unit,” Lee said. “I do not know where she was picked up by a county unit, but it was not at the scene.”
The Oak Lane residents said they are suspicious of how officers handled this matter.
“That doesn’t at all pass the smell test,” Daniels said.
“Nothing about the whole story adds up,” Hammond said.